What is it like to do science in Brazil as a Canadian

What is it like to do science in Brazil as a Canadian

Brasil Canadá

My name is Andrew MacDonald and I have had the pleasure of working here in Brazil three times over the last three years. Right now I am in the field in Restinga de Jurubatiba National Park, where I am doing an experiment alongside the graduate students of the UFRJ limnology group.

After three field seasons in Brazil, totalling 10 months (so far!), Nicholas and Vinicus Scofield here at the limnology blog asked me to write a guest post about my perspective on doing science in Brazil. I wasn’t sure how to write it — until I read this hilarious list of observations by another foreigner living in Brazil. Olivier wasn’t a scientist — so here is my experience as a scientist here in Brazil.

Here in Brazil, if one Brazilian scientist is working on a project, all her labmates are working on it, too. This is true also for large labs, where most of the Master’s and Doctoral students come out to the field for a week, two weeks or a month to do fieldwork. This is wonderful: it gives labs a community feeling that Canadian labs lack. It also means that some amazingly large projects are possible!

Here in Brasil, you’ll want to learn Portuguese, because the more portuguese you speak, the more fun you’ll have. While it is true that Brazilian academics usually have excellent English, Portuguese is for daily life — And life here is so wonderful that you won’t want to miss it.

Also, here in Brazil we value schedules very highly. Remember to make one before your field season — even if you have no intention of following it.

Here in Brazil, when you are preparing for a field season, remember: it does not matter where your field site is, nor how much time you feel you have, nor what season it is: yes, you should pack a bathing suit.

Here in Brazil, Professors have a very different relationship with students than we do in Canada: at once more formal and heirarchical, and at the same time more informal and friendly.

Here in Brazil, the daily routine of fieldwork revolves around a large, hearty lunch in the early afternoon when everyone stops work and eats together. Work continues when everyone has eaten well — and sometimes does not stop until late, if necessary. Brazilians are very dedicated to their science.

Finally, and most important – here in Brazil there is a great environment to do ecology. Brazil has two essential things: beautiful and diverse nature, and an infrastructure and scientific culture well developed. I worked in two other tropical countries (Indonesia and Costa Rica) and, to do science, Brazil is by far the coolest. Brazilian scientists are very professional, friendly and open to collaboration. I think they will make major contribuitions to ecology in the future. So, to scientists from outside Brazil: come here!

Finally, I would like to thank all my new friends and colleagues from UFRJ and also from UNICAMP in São Paulo. Without you, my work here in Brazil could not have happened. I hope to return to Brazil a lot of times in my career.

Andrew MacDonald

Andre MacDnald is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, Canada, working in prof. Srivastava’s Lab. Over the last few years he did fieldwork in Indonesia, Costa Rica and Ilha do Cardoso, in Brazil. Nowadays he is in Quissamã, about 130 miles north of Rio de Janeiro, studying the structure of aquatic communities in tank-bromeliads.

 

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